500 Dead in Oregon

December 9, 2010

That’s a headline that would certainly get your attention. If it were mass murder it would get wall-to-wall press coverage. But it doesn’t.

Sadly, it happens every year and goes largely unnoticed. And it’s preventable.

500 is the number of Oregonians who kill themselves each year.

Suicide.

At Oregon Partnership we get 18,000 calls a year to our Lifeline at 800-273-TALK. Many are people who feel the pain in their lives exceeds their coping resources. Our dedicated volunteer staff listen compassionately and connect callers with resources that can exceed their pain.

Suicide is preventable.

Call us.

-Tom


Change in the Season – Recognizing Seasonal Affective Disorder

October 22, 2010


The air is crisper, the night comes earlier, the World Series is in full swing, and before we know it we fall back into Standard time. The change of the season brings fall colors, Halloween, comfort food dinners, and a fire in the fireplace.

The change of season can also bring depression, isolation and “the blues”.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly called SAD, tends to occur during late fall and winter months. However, most people with the “winter blahs” or “cabin fever” do not have SAD. For many people symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include tiredness, fatigue, depression, crying spells, irritability, trouble concentrating, body aches, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, decreased activity level, and overeating. Statistics on seasonal affective disorder in the United States include that this disorder occurs in about 5% of adults, with up to 20% of people having some symptoms of the condition.

Some people don’t know why they feel out of sorts, they don’t know what to do or how to ask for help. Although there is no specific diagnostic test for the illness, Seasonal Affective Disorder seems to develop from inadequate bright light during the winter months.

Key in the prevention of seasonal affective disorder is regular exposure to light that is bright, particularly fluorescent lights, significantly improves depression in people with this disorder when it presents during the fall and winter. The light treatment is used daily in the morning and evening for best results. Temporarily changing locations to a climate that is characterized by bright light (such as the Caribbean) can achieve similar results. Light treatment has also been called phototherapy. Individuals who suffer from seasonal affective disorder will also likely benefit from increased social support during vulnerable times of the year.

Twenty four years ago this November, my father died of suicide.

After the shock, anger and grief, I learned that he had always felt “depressed” at the beginning of the fall season. It was not a subject my dad ever truly talked openly about. In the note he left behind, he described the overwhelming sense of sadness that came upon him, the need to isolate and the awful thoughts that ran through his mind. At the time he died, SAD and bi-polar were two types of depression that were unique and very misunderstood.

Knowing now what I didn’t know then, I attempt to learn as much as possible about these two debilitating forms of depression. In the 24 years since my father’s death, much more is known about the signs and symptoms of SAD. I wrote the following poem in an attempt to help my 2 sons know and learn about their possible legacy:

My Father’s Mask
I am my father’s son
I wear his pain deep inside
His father’s father handed down the legacy
-Men are strong, men don’t cry-
-We don’t ask for help-
My father battled his demons in silence
Until the inside voices won the war
Even in death the mask he wore was skin-tight
His pain wears me like an old sweater
Now stretched beyond yarn’s memory
Legacy’s gift handed down though time’s lineage
I am my father’s son,
Seeking to break the pathways of the past
Hoping my sons will not wear their father’s mask

– David D.


Suicide – A Surviving Son’s Story

October 12, 2010

(Editor’s note: 23 years ago Nick’s father chose to kill himself. That decision has left permanent heartache and trouble for all those left behind. Here is Nick’s story)

When I was almost 3, my father killed himself. Although I have come a long way since then, his loss has been a constant uphill battle that unfortunately will always be part of my life.

When I was younger, I was never really able to deal with my emotions of anger, sadness, and loneliness in a healthy way. I grew up an angry kid; I would get into fights and punch holes in walls and although my mom constantly tried to get me help, I was never able to really deal with the true pain I felt inside. Even to this day I could never truly understand how a father could leave behind three boys, my two half- brothers and me, all of whom were talented, funny, and bright. Besides relying on one another, we all turned to sports as a way of coping and to this day it infuriates me that my dad never once saw me play ball.

Another situation that used to bother me was spending time at my friends’ homes and watching their interactions with their fathers and realizing that this would never be me. One situation that has stayed with me was a time when I was interviewing for application to a private school; during the interview I totally disengaged. On the way home my mother asked what happened and I told her that every kid there had their mother and father to support them and I didn’t feel like I fit in.

I truly never understood how a person could take his own life until I was 15 and all my feelings of anger, frustration, and abandonment resulted in my own attempt at suicide. Fortunately, my mom got me the help I needed and I was able to move on in a positive manner.

Growing up without a father was never easy and there were times in my life that I felt so much pain I couldn’t bear it. This situation has forced me to become an extremely strong person. I’m independent and have worked hard to accomplish goals in my life.

Although I have a great relationship with my mother and brothers, it will never compensate for the pain I have experienced growing up without a dad.

– Nick


Suicide is Preventable

September 9, 2010

Suicide.

Such a loaded word…laden with a sense of stigma. One of the main goals when speaking with suicidal individuals and their loved ones is to decrease the feeling of shame that surrounds this act. As crisis line specialists, we believe that suicide can be prevented.

If you suspect that someone you know may be experiencing thoughts of suicide, it’s okay to ask, “How are you doing?” or “Are you alright…you seem kind of down.”

These are invitations that enable the suicidal person to discuss what he is experiencing. This may be the first time that another person may have been so direct with him. The opportunity for the individual to discuss possible suicidal thoughts may serve as a catharsis and offer true relief.

Listen to what the person at risk is saying. Pay attention to the emotions which are swirling under the words. Don’t try to fix her. It’s fine to say “I care.”
Familiarize yourself with some of the warning signs of suicidal behavior: Ongoing depression, a sense of hopelessness, financial and/or relationship issues and a family history of suicide. Other risk factors may include substance abuse and/or gambling.

Encourage your loved one to ask for help; you may find that you also need some emotional support. Asking for assistance may be the first step down the path of breaking the isolation that so frequently is associated with suicidal thoughts and behavior.

At Oregon Partnership our Crisis Line Specialists are trained to offer specific assistance for those folks who are struggling with the act of killing themselves. One goal is to develop rapport as well as an emotional connection. We are willing to walk down that path of darkness and despair…listening to all the pain and hopelessness that the individual is experiencing. Understanding the person’s current situation is essential to being able to offer meaningful assistance.
Hopefully, a safe plan will be developed and appropriate resources will be offered. The person will be offered a follow-up call, most likely scheduled for the same day, in order to ensure that the caller is still safe. This follow up call is significant…it continues to carry the message that we care.

A myth exists that if you talk about suicide to a depressed person you may be “planting the idea in the person’s mind.” In my experience this is completely untrue. If an individual is feeling hopeless and is struggling, chances are good that she has considered this ominous option. So, please don’t be afraid to address the situation.

You could be saving a life.

– Leslie

Oregon Partnership Lifeline: (800) 923-HELP or (800) SUICIDE


The Conversation

August 31, 2010

(Editor’s note: Tim is one of our Military Helpline specialists and is scheduled for active duty as an Army Lieutenant this coming February)

“Why don’t you like to talk about the Army?” she asked.

“It’s not that I don’t like talking about the Army, it’s that I don’t like thinking about how it will pull us apart.”

This has become my reality.

Tears began to roll down her face as I spoke about my time here, and that it would come to an end, as all good things do. Eventually I would be called off to do a job that not many people want, or choose.

Lost in thought about all that I would be losing and leaving, and sitting next to me, was someone that was also looking into the future at something that eventually she was going to lose.

As we drove on, fighting back our own very real fears of the future to come, I turned to see her, sitting quietly while those tears of fear began building up in her eyes. I reached across and held her hand gently. No words were spoken, through that touch, that bond, we both understood.

But we didn’t understand.

We probably never will. The changes that will happen are as obvious as the differences between a man and a woman. I am leaving to do a very un-natural and dangerous job, while she stays here, in school, never to see what I go through. Life for her, and for all my friends and family will carry on when I’m away, just as it has in the past. For me, life will become sweeter in a way. All the effort, long nights, early mornings, being away from those I love for long periods of time, they will all finally be justified.

While I am privileged and honored to carry the flag of this nation into areas of strife and contention, I must also carry the burden that I will be leaving those I consider closest in my life. This weight will be much heavier than any load I will carry on my back, it is not visible, and I will never show its true weight.

Watching the tears roll down her face, the burden becomes very heavy.

-Tim


Oregon Partnership Seeking Communications Director

May 4, 2010

OP’s Pete Schulberg has decided to pursue freelance work beginning this fall,  so the non-profit is going to be looking for Pete’s replacement.   See the job posting below:

Status:  Full-time/Exempt

Reports To:  President/CEO of Oregon Partnership

Position Summary
This executive team position is responsible for public information, marketing and advocacy activities.

Responsibilities
• Develop and implement public education & awareness programs to educate Oregonians about current issues related to substance abuse and suicide, using multiple media strategies
• Create OP brand awareness through public relations and outreach
• Write and develop marketing material (including, but not limited to: billboards, public service announcements, and other written collateral materials).
• Respond to inquiries from local and national media and respond to media requests
• Create media interest in emerging Oregon Partnership issues and coordinate media interview opportunities with other staff
• Coordinate press conferences and press briefings
• Represent Oregon Partnership on media and public relations collaborative efforts with other organizations
• Assist with OP special events, particularly marketing and development
• Enhance and manage OP website updates and content
• Expand OP social media presence; including blog postings, Facebook, You Tube and Twitter
• Present trainings and workshops
• Attend conferences and seminars
• Develop and manage multiple communications budgets, including media buys
• Responsible for decisions and oversight of OP publications and in-house collateral materials in collaboration with OP executives
• Carry out other duties as assigned

Qualifications
• Bachelor’s Degree
• Minimum five years experience with public affairs and media relations
• Exceptional writing and editing skills, journalistic style
• Exceptional oral and communication skills
• Knowledge of web site design and maintenance; knowledge of computer software, including current Microsoft Office and publishing software
• Ability to create innovative media materials, particularly those attractive to youth
• Motivated self-starter; able to work independently
• Exceptional presentation skills and experience
• Ability to work with variety of individuals and volunteers, including youth
• Demonstrated ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and initiative to follow through on projects and meet deadlines
• Ability to work in team environment and to balance work required by several different directors
• Knowledge of the disease of alcohol and drug addiction
• Ability to handle high pressure situations

Job Conditions
Job requires flexibility and on-call availability which may exceed 8 hours per day and/or 40 hours per week and occasional weekends. Occasional travel, evenings, weekend or holidays may be required.  This job description is not meant to be an all inclusive list of duties and responsibilities, but constitutes a general definition of the position’s scope and function in the company.  Oregon Partnership is a drug free workplace and an equal opportunity employer.

Salary commensurate with experience

To apply, send cover letter and resume with two writing samples to pschulberg@orpartnership.org


He likes Us. He really likes us.

March 2, 2007

genbarrymccaffrey1.jpgGen. Barry McCaffrey, NBC’s military analyst and former White House Drug Czar, will be attending Oregon Partnership’s annual dinner/auction June 9th.  Seems that the General is a big fan of ours and over the years, has gotten to know OP folks, including President/CEO Judy Cushing and Stephanie Soares-Pump.  And hey, he has family in Southern Oregon.

I met Gen. McCaffrey at the CADCA conference in Washington, D.C. last month.  Talk about a guy who gets alcohol and drug prevention.  OP’s annual dinner always ends up being a great evening, and McCaffrey’s appearance there this year will make it that much better. 

Order your tickets now.  Our operators are standing by. 

Pete Schulberg, Communications Director

Oregon Partnership